Catholic, Protestant, Politics

This past week in Prof. Kirkpatrick’s POS 470 class our objective while reading was to explain three major differences between “catholic” and “protestant” readings of the Constitution. Then we were to decide whether we would sign our name to the Constitution and defend our position. This objective seemed simple enough to me at first. But then I kind of hit a wall while reading, how is it religion is linked to politics? How does one’s faith direct how they act within the political arena?

Having been raised catholic I was already feeling a little biased as to how I thought the constitution would be better read.  I had previously heard about the differences  between Catholic’s and Protestant’s from some Irish friends of mine. In the past one of my best friends had housed some Irish students as they made their way across the country. One day after mass I had a conversation with these Irish students about what life was like in Ireland.  While we did touch upon a number of subjects  the biggest focus in the conversation I remember was the Catholic v. Protestant thing in Ireland, since this conversation did happen after mass. They first told me what the differences between the two religions were.  Protestants believe that the Bible alone is the source of God’s  revelation to mankind and teaches us all that is necessary for our salvation from sin. Protestants view the Bible as the standard by which all Christian behavior must be measured. This belief is referred to as Sola Scriptura. Catholics , as I was told, reject this idea. This is due to the fact that Catholics believe that both the bible and sacred Roman Catholic tradition are equal in authority.  This idea undermines the authority, sufficiency, and completeness of the bible. Minus the various expletives they regularly used in normal conversation, they wrapped up the conversation by saying the main difference between the two is how they view scripture.

I kept this information in mind while I read Constitutional Faith. My eyes were opened after I completed the reading and after class had finished. I didn’t know there was a Catholic or Protestant way of reading the constitution. I enjoyed the freedom the Catholic view had , but I respected the reverence that the Protestant view had towards the constitution itself.  Through reading I discovered that you could either keep these views pure or you could mix them together. Ultimately I identified myself as a person who would read the constitution with a  Catholic-Protestant view.

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2 Responses to Catholic, Protestant, Politics

  1. cacunni1 says:

    Coming from a Protestant background, I could also understand the complexities of the religion analogy. However, I perceived the entire constitution differently when I used my old protestant understanding of the constitution rather than my current views.

    Growing up, the Bible was certainly upheld as the most sacred document that literally is the word of God. Any additions or edits to the Bible are seen as heresy, hence why the Mormons are considered by most other protestants at best a new religious movement or at worst a cult.

    Protestants also believe that Biblical interpretation is a highly personal act, and that the Bible should be rigourously studied in order to constantly gain insight and understanding in one’s personal life. Whenever I did anything my parents thought was really bad like staying up too late talking or being disrespectful, my parents would ground me for a week or two to my bed with only the Bible to read. In retrospect, I realize that my parents wanted me to take up this rigorous study in order to guide me back to a path of what they perceived as righteousness (i.e. “Honor thy father and thy mother.)

    Protestant interpreters of the constitution hold a similar devotion to constitutional study and reverence as Protestant Christians do to the Bible. Both expect individuals to take on the yolk of studying the sacred document and following it religiously.

  2. mbstanton says:

    What an interesting perspective from someone who has actually experienced the differences in religious views paralleling with political differences in a real world interaction. It was quite curious to see that thought process play out. As someone who was not raised in a religious household, I still was able to see how a person’s beliefs may affect their political opinions, but probably in an inaccurately generalized way. I had come to conclusions that most all Christians vote Republican and Liberals have a tendency to be less religious or of more relaxed belief systems. Now having grown wiser, I understand that this is not necessarily true, but there may be a slice of truth. Thoughtful summary. Thank you.

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